During a divorce, considering the needs of the children is of paramount importance. Making sure kids’ financial, medical, educational and developmental needs are well cared for can be a complex process, and because it’s such an important one, the court will take a variety of factors into consideration in determining an appropriate and achievable child support plan.

The primary factor influencing child support in the U.S. Virgin Islands is always going to be the children’s needs and best interests. As different children require various forms of care and attention, it’s crucial that all of those needs are factored into a child support arrangement. Many things must be taken into account when determining child support, including the children’s ages, any medical or developmental conditions, educational needs and other factors and situations that may result in significant expenses. With this in mind, parents must be able to project likely ongoing and potential future expenses so as to establish a realistic and accurate goal for child support payments.

A second key factor the court will consider is the situation of each of the parents. The custodial parent’s income will often need to be supplemented by the noncustodial parent to ensure that the custodial parent’s needs are met, insofar as they affect the kids. The noncustodial parent’s income is also a major factor driving child support, as the amount this individual able to pay each month is dependent upon how much income he or she makes.

A final major consideration is the family’s standard of living prior to the divorce. When at all possible, courts will try to maintain that standard of living, to the best of their ability, through child support. Because divorce results in a significant change in the children’s life situation, the goal is to keep the standard of living as consistent as possible to maintain some semblance of stability. This can be difficult, as a divorce effectively requires two households to be supported on the income that once supported just one. Thus, maintaining the children’s former standard of living is truly a goal rather than a strict requirement.

The calculation and establishment of child support is a difficult and important aspect of any divorce involving kids. However, just because an initial agreement is reached doesn’t mean that all the work is done. The terms of the agreement and the amount of child support may need to be adjusted over time as the parents’ abilities and the children’s needs change. If this is the case, you or your former spouse may opt to seek a modification to the original agreement.

To make sure you protect your rights and best interests — and those of your children — in a divorce, be sure to work with an experienced family law attorney.

BoltNagi is a well-established and widely respected family law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.